5 Things Caregivers Should Know About Constipation and Severe Dementia

It's important to be aware of the possibility of constipation when caring for someone with severe-stage Alzheimer's. Constipation becomes more common with age and can cause discomfort for anyone -- especially those with dementia who can't easily articulate what's wrong.

What to know:

1. Don't overworry about bowel habits. It's not necessary for your loved one to have a bowel movement every single day. As a general rule, three days without a BM is considered constipation.

2. Keep track with a toileting chart. You may think you'll remember your loved one's habits, but it's much easier to simply record this information just as you probably already track medications.

3. Be aware of facial expressions (such as grimaces) during toileting or strong emotional reactions that might be signs of fear or discomfort around using the bathroom.

4. Be especially watchful when there's a change in medication (including the use of over-the-counter meds) or after your loved one has been ill. Know that opiate painkillers (like Vicodin) tend to worsen constipation.

5. Ask the doctor or pharmacist about stool softeners and other constipation treatments. There are many options, and each works in different ways. Medical advice can help you match the right one for your loved one.

Get more constipation tips.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio